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Spurs vs. Young Boys - Leg 1 Review

I don't know where to start this. To be completely honest, I just stared at a blank screen for ten minutes. What do we say about that performance? I feel like we've already been eliminated from Champions League when in reality, our chances of advancing are roughly a coin flip. We sucked. We got our asses handed to us. And yet, we got two away goals and head to the Lane only down by one. It was a surreal match and still is a surreal tie.

Before we get into analyzing any player performances or tactics, I would like to address the elephant in the room. The plastic pitch was a minimal factor in the result, if a factor at all. Spurs came out unfocused and mental errors led to the Young Boys goals, not the plastic pitch. Grass pitches are impractical in professional football stadiums in Bern. The players had an adequate amount of time to train on the pitch to get used to the bounces and how to weight passes. Anyone who says that the pitch was a significant factor in the result of the match is someone who you should not waste your time with.

Having addressed that, we can move on. In the opening minutes of the game, I actually wasn't the least bit surprised at how sluggish we started. In addition to supporting Tottenham Hotspur, I also support Schalke 04, Cruz Azul, and the United States national team. I've seen my fair share of sluggish starts and epic disappointments in football. When the first shot hit the post, I didn't even flinch. When the first goal went in, I thought "typical Spurs." Then, my emotions changed significantly. The early bad goal, I saw coming. The trainwreck, however, was a different story.

My thoughts after the second goal were "you have got to be kidding me." My thoughts after the third goal were "I think I'm going to vomit." My thoughts at 3-1 were "the comeback is on, these guys are going into 'F you' mode." I went into halftime optimistic that we were going to turn the result around. We looked decent right after halftime, but my optimism slowly faded as the energy of Spurs slowly died. I felt dejected for a good 30 minutes, thinking about how bad we'd screwed up and how it was going to take a miracle to turn the result around at White Hart Lane. All of our hard work last year was for nothing. Then, out of nowhere, Roman Pavlyuchenko scored a bullet and Spurs only have to win 1-0 or 2-1 at the Lane to advance.

As happy as I am with Pavlyuchenko for scoring that goal, he really was absolute crap for the other 89 minutes of the game, and this can't be ignored. He was really, really bad. Gio was really bad. Modric was really bad. Palacios was pretty bad. Dawson and Bassong were awful. Ekotto was reaaaaaally awful. We had a couple of flashes of good play, but around 75 minutes of that was the worst football I've ever seen Spurs play.

The happiest guy in the locker room, if there is anyone happy in the Spurs locker room, has to be Younes Kaboul. After Bassong and Dawson's abysmal performance yesterday, you have to think that he's moved up the pecking order a bit. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see a King-Kaboul center back pairing in one of the next two matches.

One player that does deserve a fair bit of praise is Tom Huddlestone. He did a lot to help Spurs keep possession and the game changed quite a bit when he was introduced. I thought that Spurs would play better with Palacios and Modric in the center of midfield instead of Huddlestone, but I have to admit that I was wrong. He doesn't have the natural talent of Palacios, Modric, the incoming Sandro, or even Jermaine Jenas, but he seems to be the most focused and composed of our central midfield options.

So, is there any blame to be laid on Harry Redknapp? Probably. I would have liked to have seen some kind of 4-5-1, 4-3-3, or 4-2-3-1 variation to try to overrun Young Boys in the midfield. Harry was obviously content to match them and hope talent won out, but our players simply didn't play with the focus to make this work. Of course, the players not being focused has to be at least partially attributed to Redknapp. Getting players focused is a major part of a manager's job. Redknapp said publicly that he didn't know a whole lot about Young Boys and based on the team's performance, I'm going to assume that they came into the game complacent and arrogant, and therefore were completely shellshocked when they went down 1-0.

This weekend against Stoke, I fully expect Harry to go to the Brittania, throw out a 4-4-2, match Tony Pulis's side like for like, and try to win on talent. Let's just hope that history doesn't repeat itself on Saturday.